A man accused of mowing down and stabbing to death a California doctor who was cycling along the Pacific Coast Highway threatened his ex-wife shortly before the fatal incident, relatives said, as friends confirmed the 39-year-old accountant was behaving strangely.
Vanroy Evan Smith, 39, an accountant from Long Beach, appeared in court on Friday charged with murder after the death of Dr Michael Mammone, a 58-year-old emergency room doctor at Providence Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach.
Prosecutors allege Smith drove through a red light around 3pm and hit Mammone. He then got out of his white Lexus and walked over to the doctor, drew a knife and stabbed him to death.
Smith’s ex-wife Marla Annette Hart, mother of his twin girls, was so frightened by his behavior that she called the police, her father told The New York Post.
Marla Annette Hart, who separated from Vanroy Evan Smith a decade ago, recently called police to her home amid an altercation with Smith, her father said
Vanroy Smith, left, has been charged with murder after Dr Michael Mammone, right, was knocked off his bike on Wednesday and killed
Aerial footage shows where the white Lexus careered into the cyclist and remained parked up a few hundred yards away
‘She was concerned for her own safety, before this,’ said Stanley Hart.
Police were called to her home for a wellness check for ‘something involving Mr. Smith,’ he added.
Hart told the paper that his former son-in-law – who separated from Marla a decade ago – was well-mannered, but had ‘issues’.
Smith and his ex-wife were in the midst of an acrimonious custody battle for their twin girls.
‘It wasn’t like I didn’t believe it, but I never could’ve imagined this,’ Hart told The Post.
‘He has some issues, that’s all I can say.
‘If the authorities do their due diligence, they will probably determine pretty quickly what those issues are.’
Hart is pictured with her twin daughters. Their father, Vanroy Evan Smith, is charged with murder
Hart was concerned about Smith’s behavior before Wednesday’s incident, her father said
Other friends and colleagues of Smith’s alluded to problems, and said that he abruptly closed his accountancy firm.
Jo A. Gilliam, a former client and friend, said the twins were Smith’s ‘world’ – but she believed he had not seen them recently.
She said she had repeatedly attempted to get in touch with him about doing her taxes, as he had for the last seven years, but he told her he was not working.
‘I’m devastated. I just spoke to him on the 23rd, and he said he was doing OK, but he was going through some things,’ Gilliam said.
‘He’s a good dude. He’s a very nice man.
‘Something had to trigger him because this is not him. He’s a good guy. He’s never in trouble for anything.’
Alice, a former colleague, said she was shocked by the news.
She said she did not know if he was struggling in his home life, adding that he never discussed his family. His office, she said, was decorated with photos of his twins.
‘I don’t know his personal life, I just know his business side,’ Alice said.
‘I am very much shocked by all this. The Evan I know is not this Evan.
‘He was a sweet, respectable guy. Nothing negative. He’s a person who gave the shirt off his back.’
Smith appeared in court shackled to several deputies and only spoke to confirm his name and date of birth
Smith was said to be holding a BB gun when he approached Mammone, a married father-of-two, and was screaming racial slurs about ‘white privilege’ , according to ABC7.
Smith was restrained by passersby until sheriffs arrived and arrested him.
‘An innocent man is dead because he took a bike ride to enjoy a beautiful California day along the beach and he was hit with a car and stabbed to death by someone he apparently never met,’ said Todd Spitzer, district attorney for Orange County.
‘The murder of a complete stranger in broad daylight for what appears to be absolutely no reason is the stuff of nightmares.’
On Facebook, Smith wrote about being mixed race, and posted lengthy musings about ethnicity and religion.
‘I was born of black and white, then had the lucky chance of growing the first 12 years with my black family, and the following 6 with white,’ he wrote.
‘I am mixed, and I find races petty.’
Smith railed against the ‘grudges, malice, separation, hate’ he felt were directed at people for their race, noting: ‘It really holds you back.’
He continued, in a screed ripe with spelling mistakes: ‘Why can’t we see that all this is tempory? We all wither and die.
‘Are you born with an appearance people call ugly or deformed? It’s ok, you will build character then go somewhere else, where I believe there will be no such limitations, if you go to the right place.
‘Likewise, are you considered beautiful or nicely shaped? Be thankful, not prideful. Did you make yourself, and how long will you be like that, does that time even appear on a scale of eternity?’
In another post, in October 2020, Smith wrote: ‘Current thought: Black VS Dark & White VS Light.’
He mused about the significance given to the colors white and black, and said it impacted people’s attitudes.
‘By appearance and established standards, I am called a black man,’ he wrote.
‘Does that mean I deny and reject half of my ancestry. How do we tell someone to filter things like that from their blood?
‘All in all, we really need to change our way of thinking.’
Dr Mammone’s destroyed bike can be seen at the corner of the intersection after it was thrown into the air
Shocking video shows the moment Smith, a trained accountant, careered into the cyclist, with police claiming that the pair were complete strangers
Despite witnesses claiming they saw a gun of some kind, officials have not confirmed if any firearms were recovered from the scene
Mammone lived in Dana Point (pictured) in California with his wife and two sons
Mammone (in pink shirt) leaves behind his wife Julie, a nurse in the same hospital (pictured in leopard-print dress), and two sons, Nick and Jon
Smith, a father-of-two, remains in custody at the Intake Release Centre in Orange County.
Mammone has worked as an ER physician at Providence Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach, since 2011 and graduated from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in 1993.
He also occasionally worked out of Mission Viejo and the Children’s Hospital of Orange County in Santa Ana.
The hospital said in a statement: ‘We are stunned by this devastating tragedy. The entire Mission Hospital family is grieving over the loss of an incredible physician and friend.
‘We will honor Dr. Mammone’s dedication to our community and passion for medicine by continuing to provide exceptional care.’
He leaves behind his wife Julie, a nurse in the same hospital, and two sons, Nick and Jon.
Cardiologist Dawn Aatwal said: ‘That’s the irony of this whole thing. If a patient was brought in his condition, he would have done everything he could to save that person.
She added: ‘He has saved so many lives here, and he died very close to where he saved hundreds of lives.’